The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency has identified funding to purchase nearly 150 hybrid diesel buses. (Emma Chiang/Special to S.F. Examiner)

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency has identified funding to purchase nearly 150 hybrid diesel buses. (Emma Chiang/Special to S.F. Examiner)

Transit board races to raise millions for purchase of new buses

The City’s transit agency is one step closer to obtaining $49 million to accelerate the purchase of new buses after a vote from a local committee.

The San Francisco County Transportation Authority’s Plans and Programs committee voted Tuesday to approve funding for the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, which operates Muni.

The funding transfer is subject to a final vote by the full board of the transportation authority, but it brings the SFMTA one step closer to identifying ways to pay for new buses.

Until now, the funding was nebulous.

The lion’s share of the transportation authority’s proposed funding allocation — $47 million — would aid the SFMTA in purchasing 85, 40-foot hybrid diesel buses, and 63, 60-foot hybrid diesel buses, according to the transportation authority.

Those buses are part of a group of 265 new buses the SFMTA is racing to raise funding for ahead of their initial proposed schedule. Some will now arrive as early as July 2017.

“These [grant funds] will help improve service now, by enabling us to get new buses in service sooner and at a lower cost than we would be able to otherwise” said Ed Reiskin, SFMTA Director of Transportation.

In December, the SFMTA Board of Directors authorized the agency to fast-track the purchase of the 265 new buses from manufacturer New Flyer Incorporated.

“We are asking you to expedite the delivery,” John Haley, SFMTA director of transit operations, told the board in December.

And expedite they did. But out of an (at the time) estimated $284.1 million needed, $121 million in funding was unidentified to pay for the buses.

“Efforts are under way to identify the remaining $121.3 million,” SFMTA staff wrote in its December agenda.

The transportation authority committee’s vote Tuesday was one of several efforts to procure that money. Simultaneous efforts are ongoing at the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, according to transportation authority documents.

Supervisor John Avalos, who serves on the SFCTA board, raised questions about spending during the Plans and Programs Committee meeting.

“I wanted an overview of the whole bus procurement program,” he said. “I want to know how far along we are in replacing the feet.”

busesNew FlyerSan Francisco County Transportation AuthoritySan Francisco Municipal Transportation AgencySFCTATransit

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